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The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and custody battles

For member's of the military, going through a divorce can present unique challenges, specifically complicating issues of custody. Those undergoing a divorce while serving will want to familiarize themselves with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which offers some specific protections and provisions for the brave men and women of the United States Military.

Military obligations such as regular relocation or deployment can have huge implications for service members. In some cases, it may mean sacrificing some custody rights in the short term, and much more difficult battles on the homefront upon returning. Fortunately, the SCRA offers some legal protections for parents who are called to active duty. The most important of these protections for the serving parent is the right to request a stay of court and administrative proceedings.

Should your military service affect your ability to engage in the custody hearing process, the SCRA allows for an automatic 90-day stay of the proceedings when you request such in writing. You may also be able to obtain additional delays to the proceedings with further requests, but these will be granted at the discretion of the relevant judge, hearing officers, or magistrate. Furthermore, in the event that your spouse attempts to modify child custody status while you're deployed, you may use the SCRA to delay this hearing as well. Also, should your custody agreement already be established without containing provisions for your military service, it is possible to work through the courts with the other parent to modify the orders.

It is a great honor and privilege to serve the country, but that does not diminish the rights you should have as a parent to the child you love. Any service member facing a custody battle will find that the representation of an experienced attorney can help ensure that his or her rights are protected, just the service member protects the rights of citizens.

Source: militaryonesource.mil, "Child Custody Considerations for Members of the Military," accessed Aug. 12, 2016

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Thompson Family Law, P.A.
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